“Möbelfertigung” magazine’s Doris Bauer had an in-depth interview with the newly appointed Eumabois President. Several topics were discussed, all very interesting... Here is a summary of the most significant.

möbelfertigung: Mr. Köppel, in the previous term you were Vice President, now you have taken the top position within Eumabois. What’s the key driver for your new role within the federation?Jürgen Köppel: It’s the opportunity to represent some 850 companies worldwide. Besides that, I can have an influence and get things moving for companies. For instance, there are decisions to be made in Brussels. On a political level, there is quite a lot of academic discussion. An example is the topic of sustainability at machine level: sometimes decisions are made that definitely sound good, but then they turn out to be very hard to implement. In such cases, it may be sensible to involve as many companies as possible and collect their requirements... Eumabois is perfectly fit for this task. 
It is always difficult for companies alone to tackle specific issues. We have a very effective approach to a large number of companies from different national associations in Europe. No matter if it’s about political issues that involve our business or the definition of technical standards.

möbelfertigung: What’s the main reason why you accepted to step up from Vice President to President?
Jürgen Köppel: The main reason for me was that the Vice President standing next to me is an operating figure, and even the rest of the board is comprised of persons who have operating roles in the daily business of their companies. In this way, when it comes to consulting activities and markets, we can offer all our expertise and bring different points of view about various topics.
We have succeeded in covering all board positions with this approach. For instance, since September I have been working very closely with Vice President Luigi De Vito, who is the managing director of SCM Group’s woodworking machinery division.

möbelfertigung: What’s the mission of Eumabois?
Jürgen Köppel: Before I took over the role of Vice President, Eumabois’ activity to me was mainly focused on the international exhibition calendar, as well as on specific exhibitions that the federation promotes to support their growth. In this respect, one of my ambitions was to maximize the effectiveness of this action, in order to improve how the federation presents itself and what it stands for. Apart from exhibition-related activity – which is definitely important – Eumabois is a loudspeaker for its members in several areas, from DIN standards to customs regulations.

möbelfertigung: What’s the most important task of the federation, in your opinion?
Jürgen Köppel: Definitely, consulting for its members. That’s why I cannot understand why sometimes smaller companies say: “This association is not for me.” Exactly those companies often don’t have the resources to carry out expensive analysis and surveys, whereas the community of an association can do that and actually does.
In my position at Homag Group, for instance, I turned to the German association VDMA to get reliable information about a specific market. And even for the association it was difficult to make resources available to collect such market information.
Imagine a small manufacturer considering the possibility to produce in China in order to increase its competitiveness: where can they get industry-specific market information other than from their national association or Eumabois?

möbelfertigung: Is there anything you would like to change?
Jürgen Köppel: We always have ideas to improve things, building on very solid foundations. For instance, an important task of the association is to collect useful information, such as import and export figures, revenues and similar data. These figures are generated by the associations of each country and flow into a common data platform at Eumabois, so that we can have a clear picture at the end. Statistic structures are partially outdated, as machines have changed a lot, for instance. In this case it would be useful to update the classification.
Of course we have identified a few key activities, which we formulated last November so that we can bring them forward together.
The awareness and knowledge of external events is one example. I like to make a comparison with the European Union: why has “Brexit” happened? Because, in the end, there was little discussion about the positive sides of the European community, while the negative aspects became more and more visible. In this respect, we want to carry out a stronger marketing action. For instance, we must inform that an exhibition has increased area prices by 10 Euro per square meter, instead of 50, as a result of fruitful discussion with Eumabois. It is necessary to promote our positive action to the public.
Another topic on our agenda, for instance, is the Code of Conduct. In some member associations such rules were introduced long ago, but not in others. We want to identify the core concepts centrally, to be used then by our member associations.

möbelfertigung: Are you getting additional benefits from your exhibition activity?
Jürgen Köppel: There are basically two key benefits, both for exhibitors. On one side, single companies from national associations can participate in collective booths and do not need to organize their participation completely on their own.
Also the member associations do not need to set up a small booth on their own, instead they can show up more attractively as association under the umbrella of Eumabois. We are developing and expanding these options and we believe they will be appreciated. This strategy would also provide each company with an attractive “remote” point of contact at the Eumabois collective booth. Active companies recognize each other and are happy to exchange views and opinions in foreign markets. 
We want to expand this type of initiatives in the future: at “Ligna” 2015, Euambois promoted the creation of a real “federation marketplace” where exhibitors and visitors could meet. We want to apply this concept to other exhibitions.

möbelfertigung: Which part of the association’s work at European level do you value most?
Jürgen Köppel: We have to be aware of our role in the global scenario. There is hardly any other region in the world that can set standards. If you consider a Big Europe with a strong expansion to East, this will generate not only trends, but also standards. And such an agile federation will bring benefits also to smaller businesses, as someone will also listen to them, and not just to the big brands. We must keep this concept very clear in our mind. With such a forward-looking concept, business will become certainly much better.


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